Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, Ricardo Amils, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, William M. Irvine, Daniele L. Pinti, Michel Viso


  • Ricardo AmilsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-11274-4_272



A chemolithoautotroph is an autotrophic microorganism that obtains energy by oxidizing inorganic compounds. Most  chemolithotrophs are autotrophs. Examples of relevant inorganic electron donors include hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, ferrous iron, and ammonia. Winogradsky described the concept of chemolithoautotrophy for the first time while studying the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. Chemolithoautotrophic organisms have  electron transport complexes, similar to those of chemoorganotrophs, which are used to generate a  protein motive force. The proton motive force drives the synthesis of ATP. In this case, the reduction of CO2requires the use of ATP and reducing power, which is, most often, obtained through the use of the electron transport chain in reverse mode, consuming energy. Sulfur, iron, and ammonia oxidizers are fundamental elements in the biogeochemical cycles of these elements....

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia MolecularUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid Campus CantoblancoMadridSpain